The Constitution of the United States of America provides for the superiority of federal government over the state governments in matters related to the national defense, monetary and currency, and the conduct of international relations. Federal law governs issues such as legislation by the US Congress, executive orders of the US President, as well as the decisions taken by the federal courts that also serve as the interpretation of the US Constitution. It should pertinent to note that the Supreme Court of the United States enjoys the status of final arbiter of federal law (Bohm & Walker, 2006).
On the other hand, state laws are the laws and regulations that govern different maters in each separate state. The state legislative authorities pass those laws, which are then signed by the governor of that state. State laws exits and operate in conjunction with or, sometimes, in a quite opposite to federal law (Hall & Clark, 2002). In the event of any conflict between the federal and state law, the verdict of federal courts is sought to resolve the conflict. This paper aims at discussing differences and similarities of federal and state government as it pertains to their role in the implementation of criminal justice policy.
Many criminal offenses come under the jurisdiction of both federal and state laws, each aimed at defining different criteria for different offences and different sentences as well as different prison systems that offenders must serve depending on the nature of offense and whether the prosecution is conducted under federal or state law. A detailed analysis of both federal and state laws reveals that the sentences awarded under the former tend to be stricter and usually have few alternative options available (Bohm & Walker, 2006).